I occasionally make my own soap from time to time. Tonight I thought I would share a quick lesson with you. Making bar soap is fairly easy but you need to make sure to follow the directions or else things could go horribly wrong.
First things first….Supplies
2/3 cup of olive oil
2/3 cup of coconut oil
2/3 cup of grape seed oil
1/4 cup of lye (sodium hydroxide)
3/4 cup of distilled water
stainless steel mixing bowl
2 pint glasses
any oil or color additives (I used lemongrass and lemon eucalyptus)
Next, cover your work area with newspaper. Put your gloves on and lets get started! Measure your water into the mason jar. Have a spoon ready. Measure your lye, making sure you have exactly ¼ cup. Slowly pour the lye into the water, stirring as you go. Stand back while you stir to avoid the fumes as you stir the lye into the water. When the water starts to clear, you can allow it to sit while you move to the next step.
In the pint glass, add your three oils together. They should just make a pint. Heat in a microwave for about a minute, or place the jar of oils in a pan of water to heat. Check the temperature of your oils – it should be about 120° or so. Your lye should have come down by then to about 120°. Wait for both to cool somewhere between 95° and 105°. This is critical for soap making. Too low and it’ll come together quickly, but be coarse and crumbly.
When both the lye and oils are at the right temperature, pour the oils into a mixing bowl. Slowly add the lye, stirring until it’s all mixed. Stir by hand for a full 5 minutes. It’s very important to get as much of the lye in contact with as much of the soap as possible. After about 5 minutes, you can keep stirring or you can use an immersion blender (like this). The soap mixture will lighten in color and become thick. When it looks like vanilla pudding it’s at “trace” and you’re good to go. (Watch this video to see what trace looks like.)
Add your herbs, essential oils or other additions at this point. Stir thoroughly to combine. Pour the mixture into mold(s) and cover with plastic wrap.
Set in an old towel and wrap it up. This will keep the residual heat in and start the saponification process. Saponification is the process of the base ingredients becoming soap.
After 24 hours, check your soap. If it’s still warm or soft, allow it to sit another 12-24 hours. When it’s cold and firm, turn it out onto a piece of parchment paper or baking rack. If using a loaf pan as your mold, cut into bars at this point. Allow soap to cure for 4 weeks or so. Be sure to turn it over once a week to expose all the sides to air (which is not necessary if using a baking rack).
When your soap is fully cured, wrap it in wax paper or keep it in an airtight container. And that’s it! Not too difficult, huh? Here’s a picture of some soap I made a month or so ago.
Love me some natural soap!
Happy Friday eve everyone!
Motto of the day:
“Whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy.”